Differences between IT Security & IT Compliance

It isn’t strange to see IT newbies think that IT security & IT compliance mean the same thing given that they work in synergy to ensure the overall success of the IT solution. Although both practices are employed to ensure that the common goal is achieved, yet they play different functions.

Therefore, to clear the blurry lines, we will look at the differences between information technology security & information technology compliance.

Let’s get started…

IT Security Explained

Information technology security or InfoSec (IS) is the practice whereby effective technical controls are implemented to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a company’s assets are protected. Visit https://www.halpernadvisors.com/thought_leadership/why-is-confidentiality-important/ to learn why confidentiality is important.

This practice focuses on two major areas:

i. The prevention of attacks that could negatively affect the business data and IT infrastructure of the company.

ii. The mitigation of the damaging effect of a successful attack on the company.

For this solution to be effective, the following must be done:

i. An all-inclusive view of the security needs of the organization must be considered.

ii. Appropriate technical, administrative, and physical controls must be implemented.

The field of information technology security is wide and it includes cyber-security, architecture and infrastructure management, and testing. InfoSec is just a part of this fast field of information technology.

The three major sections when dealing with InfoSec are confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility. The CIA Triad is what IT security professionals refer to these three as. Understanding these sections will enable us to understand what must be done in InfoSec.

CIA Triad

1. Confidentiality

The information of a company which includes innovations under development, proprietary information, and customer data is very sensitive. Hence, InfoSec ensures that this information is protected. The practice ensures that the only people who can gain access are authorized persons and systems.

2. Integrity

This deals with ensuring that the information details that have been entered and stored in the system are correct. To ensure that this happens, the system must be designed with a measure that can detect when any information is incorrect.

3. Accessibility

The system and the information that is set up must be readily accessible to authorized users when they need it. This is a vital necessity that determines the reliability of the system that has been set up.

Apart from these 3 key sections, other important sections are authentication as well as non-repudiation.

Now that we understand IS, let us discuss IT compliance to bring us a step closer to differentiating between the Security & Compliance practices that IT professionals carry out.   

IT Compliance Explained

IT compliance deals with the process that an organization takes to meet the requirements of a third party to ensure that the organization remains operational with a certain market or abides with the rules set or with a certain client.

While compliance has similarities to security, the motive that drives the former is different. Compliance is focused on meeting the requirements set by third parties such as:

i. Government policies

ii. Industry regulations

iii. Customer/client contractual terms

iv. Security frameworks

Hence, this area of IT is vital for any business that seeks to thrive. Failure to meet the requirements of these third parties can affect your business negatively.

The following are some of the negative effects an organization might face when they don’t meet up with the compliance requirements:

i. Customer trust is lost and reputation is damaged. This is considered the minimum negative effect.

ii. A more negative effect will be financial and legal consequences that could lead to the payment of huge penalty fees or a ban from operating within a particular market or region.

Compliance becomes very important in the following areas:

i. Countries that have privacy/data laws.

ii. Regulated markets that have strict regulations. Click here to learn more about regulated markets.

iii. Clients that demand top confidentiality.

Compliance depends on several factors such as:

i. The industry your business operates in.

ii. The size as well as the location of your company.

iii. Your type of customer.

Comparison of Security & Compliance

The table below compares these IT practices side by side to give you a clear grasp of the differences between the two:

IT SecurityIT Compliance
Protects the IT and info assets of the companyProtects the business activities of the company
Practiced for the sake of the companyPracticed to meet the demand of third parties
Demands regular maintenanceEnds with the third party satisfaction

Conclusion

Security and compliance may look alike from an external point of view; however, when the internal workings of an organization that practices both are examined closely, you will discover the differences.

In the article above, we have discussed both concepts extensively to reveal their different functions. We then went ahead to compare both in a table to give you an outline of how different they are.

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